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Monday, November 1, 2010

Bletchley Park Cricketing Sheets - Rained off!

At the end of September 2010 Bletchley Park Post Office contacted its customers advising them 

" ..... a  decision has now finally been made to cancel the issue of these two (cricketing) sheets." 

Customers were advised to contact Terry Mitchell (terry@ltmp.co.uk) who would be able to give a more detailed explanation, if required. At least one customer was offered alternative personalised sheets produced at Autumn Stampex in lieu of a full refund (in this case in excess of £100 ) against funds paid out by him as far back as July 2009.  Shortly before this announcement we received feedback from another keen collector who wrote to us and said...

 "I am not too impressed with BPPO - they announce sheets, collect the money and then more than a year goes by and the sheets have not yet appeared! They have been holding on to my £100 all this time!". 

We are interested to hear from other collectors concerning their experience - are you experiencing similar delays in obtaining a refund from Bletchley Park Post Office or was this just an isolated case?  In any event here is your opportunity to have your say. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Future of Smilers - Your Feedback for Royal Mail and Business Sheet Producers

A new sheet from Benham Covers has been announced celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Great Western Railway. Surprisingly, at least for me, the number of sheets printed was 1000. The appeal of these sheets must be based on thematic interest and may explain why Benham and others continue to focus on trains, boats and planes.

This sheet bucks the trend of lower production runs of c. 300-500 sheets, seen in recent months. I am not surprised by this trend as interest in the sheets seems to be down as producers ignore the basic rules of supply and demand - producing more and more sheets does not necessarily mean people will buy more and more. It is a well known principle of consumer marketing that people tend to become more selective when given more choice. In my view we are perhaps seeing a re-positioning of the Smilers sheet market from one with broad appeal to one where collectors are selective about what they collect. As a result, the hardened Smilers sheet collectors will loose interest and probably focus on other less expensive areas of collecting (perhaps commemorative machine labels - whatever next!) and as a consequence demand for these products will continue to decline effectively killing off the goose that laid the golden egg.
Sheet producers take note - be more creative and innovative with your products - if you want your business to survive. Planes, boats and trains are no doubt interesting if you like that sort of thing but what about the rest of us? Bradbury has focused on the History of Britain but will one day run out of kings and queens and although very well designed the sheets are very "samey". The brightest star on the horizon this year for me was Phil Stamps but Steve has just announced he is shutting up shop at the end of the year so we will be deprived of a potentially interesting source of these sheets. I am not advocating radical change just a modicum of creativity to match the producers desire for profit. What about a circular label design, a horizontal format self adhesive business sheet, some sporting events covered - the possibilities are endless unlike the mindless pursuit of thematic and historical topics.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Overprinted Themed Sheets - not new but .....

Oh dear! Not content with overprinting unsold stocks of Business Sheets it seems that a certain Smilers dealer is turning its attention to unsold stocks of  Themed Sheets! 

Rushstamps have issued a limited print number of 32 sheets (seems a rather random number - possibly unsold stock?) of their London 2010 Themed sheet (TS-174) overprinted with National Stamp Day / May 6th 2010 / "Philatex" in three lines in Black - bottom left and top right margins. The sheet has been allocated the Catalogue reference TS-174a. Another worrying development! (11/08)

View the Smilers News Item

Monday, August 2, 2010

Smilers Overprints - Your View

Recently we posted this entry which has raised a few heckles.

Rushstamps are selling the (2004) set of four Elvis Presley sheets produced by Benham overprinted in Silver with the wording 75th Birthday Anniversary - 1935-2010 - Limited Edition of 75, priced at £75 a set of 4 sheets. The sheets will be given the Smilers Catalogue Numbering BC-034a, BC-035a, BC-036a and BC-037a.

Some of you wrote to us expressing your views and we wanted to give Smilers Collectors an opportunity to express their view directly to the sheet producer.  Here is your opportunity...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gamekeeper Turned Poacher?

Royal Mail has released a publicity image of thr British Grand Prix Commemorative Sheet due out on 8 Juk 2010. It features images of past British World Champion Grand Prix drivers. When these sheets first appeared Royal Mail told us that the purpose of the Commemorative Sheets (as RM dubbed them) was to "mark anniversaries that never made (the current) stamp programme". When the Olympic Games Commemorative Sheet appeared last year w were told that this was a "one off" as the Olympic organsiers were expecting something appropiate to help promote the Games.

Returning to the recently announced Grand Prix sheet, don't get me wrong, I think the sheet design is very pleasing and it should appeal to a broad range of sheet collectors alike. However, I do find the latest sheet a little worrying for the Philatelic Trade who can now safely assume that the scope of these Commemorative Sheets can be anything Royal Mail choose, placing them in direct competition with the Business sheet producers who are alread seeing interest in these sheets wane probably due to the sheer number of sheets being produced. But that it not my main beef. They are now competiting with Business Sheet producers on unfair terms in my view - not only can they produced these sheets at a fraction of other sheet producers, undercutting and undermining retail costs of Business Sheet producers but they can disrupt the production of Business sheets casuing production delays and hence distort and control the market.

What is you view? Did Royal Mail get it right with this sheet or have they stepped over the line?